Creating the Ultimate Urban Forest.
Thought and planning can increase the number of trees in an urban area and reduce the chances of blowdown. First of all consider nature’s solution. Trees along the shore were once prolific and short. These should never be removed to accommodate a nice view of the ocean. These short trees serve a purpose, They are the first line of defense against the wind. They push the wind upward. Behind them lived slightly taller trees. Behind them even taller trees. In this way the wind was directed up and over the tree tops. This line of defense against the wind can be replicated with buildings and the planting of new trees of appropriate heights.
Approval for new construction should include a review of existing trees on the property. Where enough space exists, trees of appropriate heights should remain. Landowners should be encouraged (but not required) to remove trees that are obvious threats to structures. A method for retaining rainwater in order to water remaining trees during dry spells, should be included in the plan. These actions will not increase the number of trees, but will slow the reduction of trees and increase the safety of remaining trees.
To me the ultimate north coast “Urban Forest” is an area within the city where a wild evergreen forest grows with a symbolic understory. Let me explain. A wild forest shares nutrients with neighboring trees and foliage. As noted in my “Tribute to Spruce Trees…”
ferns and trees seem to have a symbiotic relationship, each taking care of the other. Big trees provide shade that ferns need. During drought, fern fronds die. This reduces water consumption by the fern, and the dead fronds cover the ground helping to prevent rapid water evaporation. The fern’s dead fronds benefit the tree during dry periods. So to me, the ultimate Urban Forest is not a line of trees hovering over grass, but a collection of trees supported by an understory of native foliage that would be found in a real wild forest.
Areas remain within city boundaries that are wild, such as creeks, small ravines, marshy areas. These can be developed into ultimate urban forests. Stands of trees under private ownership could be purchased, or donated, to the public, to be preserved and developed into ultimate urban forests. With thought and planning, cities can smell as fresh as the great outdoors.
Above: New construction levels ground, fills areas that pool water. Results: more water flows down hill, pooling in lowlands.
Above: Natural shoreline growth, was low along ocean, lifting the wind up and over the forest.
Below: Seaside’s south Prom walk was once sheltered by small trees of the type seen above. Many of these trees have now been removed.
Above: Natural area next to pic at right. It is somewhat protected from the wind. This area pools water. It’s muddy and swampy in places. But, it absorbs water, releasing it gradually. It provides drinking water for wild critters. Thick foliage blocks the sun. It’s a dark place, delightfully cool on a hot summer’s day. It’s an ideal start of an ultimate urban forest.
Factors Decreasing The Number of Trees in Urban Areas:
As population increases along Oregon’s north coast, trees are removed to make room for new construction.
Wind tunnels are created by removing trees and by new construction. When the big storms roll in, they blow thru the wind tunnels and slam into trees that were previously protected. This causes more trees to blow down.
Trees grow. Roots can spread until they threaten to damage building foundations, unless the tree is removed.
Trees can rot. Roots nicked by bulldozers can make trees unstable. For safety, such trees are removed.
Words of Caution
Urban Tree Removal is Tricky
When there is plenty of space, a tree can be dropped in the traditional way, tho modern lumberjacks may not shout “Timber!” Precision cuts at the bottom of the tree, drops the entire tree.
When a tree is growing between structures things get tricky. The tree has to be “chunked.” and that’s an art. Not only must the lumberjack stand in the tree while sawing and dropping a chunk of tree, the chunk has to land in a precise location. When a tree must be removed, use a professional and check references carefully. Make sure the license and bond is active.
Above: Urban Spruce Trees. They grew tall protected by the many trees that once stood to the west of them. Now most of those trees have been removed. These spruce now take the full blast of the wind.
Below: The natural understory that has developed beneath the above spruce trees. During dry summers, the ground remains moist, the air remains cool.
Above: An urban spruce is dropped in one piece by Justin of Quality Tree Removal.